Warriors cinch playoff spot in win at home
The Warriors defeated the Webster County Highlanders 22-20 in a stirring game at home Friday night.
Pocahontas County sloshed through the snow and mud for an unlikely comeback late in the fourth quarter against Webster County.
ﾓWe were flawless the last five minutes of the ballgame. I'm just really proud of them,ﾔ said Warrior coach Mike Knisely.
The Highlanders were first to receive and ran the return almost to midfield with the night's first carry. Webster County quickly took the lead on their first drive, scoring a touchdown run on their fourth play. The Highlanders were unable to score on their extra point attempt.
Pocahontas County answered during their drive with several rushing attempts ﾠwhich proved unsuccessful, and the Warriors were forced to punt.
The Highlanders connected on a long pass and made gains carrying, but the Warrior defense held strong. Linebackers Brandon Hamons and Brandon Gloshen contributed with a key QB sack, and the Warrior defenders maintained tight pass coverage throughout the drive. The Highlanders were forced to hand over possession after failing to convert on a first down.
The Warriors handed the ball off between running backs Devin Rose and Kyler Doss and hammered the football up the field. The Webster County defense managed to hold Pocahontas County at the goal line, and the ball went back to the Highlanders.
The Warrior defense controlled the Highlanders again and forced another punt.
The Warriors pressed Webster County with more rushing. Doss continued to hassle the Highlander defense but it was Rose who put the Warriors on the scoreboard with a touchdown carry. Doss fought his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Webster County responded with a strong passing assault but were again held by the Warrior defense and unable to convert on the first down.
The Warriors continued to run the ball but were stopped midfield and forced to punt again.
Webster County connected on a deep pass and then again for a first down, but the Warrior pass coverage prevented any scoring during the Highlander drive, leaving the Warriors up at the half, 8-6.
After halftime Pocahontas County received the ball and Doss, Rose and Spencer McCoy continued the Warrior rushing onslaught. Skylar Knisely connected on a short pass to McCoy that left the Warriors in prime scoring position. The drive ended when Webster County stripped the ball from Doss' grip and it was recovered for the Highlanders.
Despite their best efforts, the Highlanders were forced to punt again after an effective performance by the Warrior defense.
During the Warrior drive Knisely hit Rose on a short pass. The very next play Rose broke away from defenders on a carry for more than 25 yards. The Warriors inched closer to the goal line but were stopped short again by Webster County and forced to turn over the ball.
During the Webster County drive the Highlanders moved the ball deeper into Warrior territory and managed to score on a breakaway carry. The Highlanders were successful on their two-point conversion, leaving the Warriors behind 8-14.
The Warrior offensive drive was cut short by a fumble that the Highlanders managed to recover.
The Highlanders, on the first play of the drive, completed another deep pass that left them in scoring position. Webster County kept up the pressure and were successful on a first down conversion. The Highlanders scored another touchdown on an uncontested carry but were unable to score on their two-point attempt. The Highlander touchdown left the Warriors trailing 8-20.
Pocahontas County refused to yield with Doss and Hunter Grimes carrying the ball for short gains. Knisely connected with wide receiver Jesse Taylor on a deep pass leaving the Warriors with favorable field position. Doss fought his way past the goal line for another Warrior touchdown. Knisely was able to connect with McCoy on a short pass for the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 16-20.
The situation was looking grim for Pocahontas County. With only a few minutes left on the game clock, Webster County opened their drive with an exciting breakaway carry. The Highlanders slowly advanced the ball, burning precious seconds.
The stalwart Warrior defense turned the tide of the game when Matthew Arbogast recovered a fumble for Pocahontas County.
The Warriors were at midfield, down by four, with only minutes left on the clock. Their only hope for the win would be another successful offensive drive. As the clock wound down and the outlook worsened; the Warrior offense operated with lethal efficiency.
Twice, Doss forced his way through the Highlander defense for long carries, and the Pocahontas County stands erupted in cheers. Knisely dropped back to pass and lobbed a deep Hail Mary to Taylor for a touchdown, and the Warrior fans went wild.
The situation was tense and on both sides of the field fans were screaming their support. With time still on the clock and a score of 22-20, the Warrior defense still had to prevent a Highlander touchdown.
Webster County made several desperate pass attempts to quickly move the ball upfield.
The Warrior crowd exploded in celebration when Dillon Hovorka nimbly intercepted a Highlander pass, cinching the Warrior victory.
The win guarantees the Warriors a spot in the playoffs in two weeks, although who their opponent will be is undecided. The Warriors have a bye this week.